The RSPCA have launched a campaign this month to help millions of dogs in the UK who could be struggling to cope when they’re left alone.
The charity’s campaign is called Dog Kind and is to raise awareness of dogs who could be suffering from Separation Anxiety.
Suffering in Silence
Many dogs suffer in silence, without showing any clear signs that they’re struggling to cope when left on their own, meaning owners don’t often realise that there’s a problem.
#DogKind aims to raise awareness of this (often hidden) issue to help owners ensure their dogs are the happiest pooches on the block.
We know that owners are the centre of their dog’s life. So, when you leave your dog for any period of time, it can be incredibly difficult for them. It’s nothing to do with their age, breed or where they’ve come from. Many dogs don’t know how to cope when their owner isn’t at home and so are often unhappy when left alone.
Daisy Hopson, Dog Kind campaign manager
Research suggests that 85% of dogs may be struggling to cope when left alone. It’s shocking to think that more than seven million of our four-legged friends could be feeling frightened, lonely or sad when home alone.
More worrying is the fact that many dogs won’t show signs that they are struggling (50% of dogs according to one study). Therefore, Separation Anxiety is easy for owners to miss.
In fact, 75% of owners surveyed were unaware that their dogs were finding it hard to cope when on their own.
The RSPCA’s own survey found that 22% of owners left their dogs for four or more hours. While 53% of dogs were left shut inside the house when their owners were out.
Treating Separation Anxiety
RSPCA’s dog welfare expert, Dr Samantha Gaines, says: “Some dogs who find it difficult to cope when on their own bark/howl or destroy things to show their feelings, others will simply sit there suffering in silence. Like people, dogs express their emotions in different ways, so you may not always know if there is a problem.”
The good news is you can help your dog learn that it’s okay to be left alone and help your dog to feel calmer and happier while you’re out:
A Special Toy
When you leave your dog alone, make sure it has a mentally stimulating toy such as a stuffed kong toy, a flavoured chew or a treat cube. Make sure it’s a special toy that they only have when you’re not around.
Try to walk your dog before you go out so that they have the chance to go to the toilet and exercise.
Then feed them half an hour or so before you plan to leave. This way, your dog will be sleepier and therefore more inclined to be relaxed.
Ensure that your dog’s environment is as calming as possible while they’re left alone. Close curtains to reduce what your dog can see outside, leave them in a quiet room or leave the radio on to muffle outside noise.
The RSPCA recommend that you don’t leave your dog alone for more than four hours at a time. However, if your dog struggles being left alone, using a dog sitter service is a great way of easing stress when you’re not there.
If your dog does misbehave when left alone, it’s important not to react badly. Your dog will become more anxious about what you will do when you return the next time, and this can increase their anxious behaviour.
If you do come home to a mess, it’s essential not to physically punish them or shout at them.
Seek Professional Help
If you’re concerned that your pet is displaying signs of separation related behaviour, then speak to your vet or to the team at Pets Corner in Peterborough One Retail Park.
They can offer specialist advise on how to improve your dog’s experience of being home alone.
Pets Corner is an ethical pet store chain, with the main area of business being specialist natural pet foods, accessories and treatments.
They have a variety of products and services to ensure your pooches are in tip top health – including pet food, toys and accessories. Browse and buy their dog range in-store now.
Find out more about the Dog Kind campaign.